Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala has died at the age of 78.
The musician founded the South African choral group in 1960 who won five Grammy awards and featured heavily on Paul Simon’s acclaimed “Gracelands” album.
According to the BBC, Shabalala is believed to have died in a hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, while his death was confirmed by South Africa’s government on Twitter on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
A tweet from South African officials reads, “We would like to extend our condolences on the passing of Joseph Shabalala who was the founder of the group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.”
It added in Shabala’s Xhosa language, “Ulale ngoxolo Tata ugqatso lwakho ulufezile,” which translates as, “Rest in peace, father, your race is complete.”
The group became famous around the world in the 1980s, and became symbols of South Africa’s emergence from the Apartheid era after Nelson Mandela named them among South Africa’s cultural ambassadors.
Shabalala retired from performing in 2014, but his sons continue to lead Ladysmith Black Mambazo as a male voice choir. His son Thamsanqa now leads the group.